Joel Embiid to donate money to help 76ers employees hurt by organization-wide 20 percent pay cut, per report

Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris announced Monday that he would institute a 20 percent pay cut to all at-will team employees making at least $50,000 per year, who will also now be working four-day weeks. This includes coaches and front office executives, but also support staff such as the marketing and sales departments. Harris, who also owns the New Jersey Devils and has a projected net worth of nearly $4 billion, argues that the cuts are a necessary move to avoid layoffs amid the outbreak of coronavirus.

That doesn’t make the decision any more popular, though, so a 76ers star is stepping up to help close the gap. Joel Embiid will donate an undetermined amount of money to those impacted by the pay cut, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. This comes in addition to the $500,000 donation he is making to help fight COVID-19. While there is no stated reason for the unnamed amount toward team employees, the likely explanation is that Embiid does not know how many employees his donation will need to support. 

At-will employees of the team have been forced to take the pay cut. Salaried employees need to volunteer for it, though, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, many are considering doing so. The notion of giving up money is hard to stomach in such an uncertain financial situation, especially with the NBA season on hold right now. 

According to Wojnarowski, members of the 76ers coaching staff have until Thursday to accept the cuts, though it is not yet known what the consequence of not doing so would be. In addition to the world- and league-wide fears, Philadelphia’s coaching staff has other reasons for apprehension. It has long been rumored that an early playoff exit would lead to the ouster of head coach Brett Brown. That would likely also cost the rest of the coaching staff its jobs. Without knowing their future employment status, holding onto every last dime seems sensible. 

But there will certainly be pressure to accept the cut. Top executives such as general manager Elton Brand and CEO Scott O’Neil have already agreed to take the cut, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, but their jobs don’t appear to be in jeopardy, and even if they were, they make substantially more than most team employees. The political capital that they’ve likely gained in so quickly agreeing to their boss’ new policy probably means quite a bit in terms of their long-term job security. 

On the other side of the coin is Sixers part-owner Michael Rubin. According to Shams Charania of Stadium, he is “upset and outraged” about the cuts. Rubin, whose net worth reportedly hovers just below $3 billion, could theoretically cover the cuts himself, though he would likely draw the ire of fellow NBA owners in the process, who are surely monitoring this situation to see if such cuts of their own are viable. 

It should be noted that players are not involved in this potential pay cut. The explanation for why is simple: they have a union, and that union will likely negotiate some sort of financial settlement with the NBA that deals with all of the fallout of this pandemic. Teams do not have the right to unilaterally enforce pay cuts on their players. They can with lesser employees. Even those who have the contractual right to deny it might not have the organizational sway to actually do so. The rest of the league will likely be watching this situation carefully. If Harris successfully enforces the pay cut, it wouldn’t be surprising to see other teams follow suit. 

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